Community Blood Services Hosts Drives to Help With Nationwide Shortage

by Nicole Murray

ImageCommunity Blood Services is encouraging everyone to come out and donate at their blood drives this week, because of a blood shortage in the state that has been exacerbated by recent inclement weather.

“The recent abundance of snow storms has resulted in a nationwide shortage of blood supplies,” said Community Blood Services Affairs Director Karen Ferriday.

Centers have been forced to close twice since January and cancel blood drives even as demand has increased due to weather-related accidents.

The first donation opportunity will take place March 4 at 126 College Ave. from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Blood drives will be held March 5 at 157 College Ave from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and March 7 at 126 College Ave. from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

“It was difficult for our regular donors to leave their homes because of the inclement weather,” said Senior Manager of Recruitment of Community Blood Services, Grace Gehrke. “We need people to donate not only when it is an emergency but to make it a regular part of their lives.”

New Jersey will always struggle with blood supplies due to the dense population, said Ferriday.

“Recently, we have been operating with less than one day’ worth of blood supply on the shelves,” said Ferriday. “On top of this issue, New Jersey already has to import approximately 50,000 units of blood per year.”

Anyone is able to donate blood year round, as long as they satisfy the necessary criteria. People can give blood every 56 days and must follow federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines. Donors must be between 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental consent, and 75 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be healthy, said Ferriday.

For those new to the blood donating process, it is “best to eat healthy, remain hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep before the donation,” said Gehrke. Upon arriving, a nurse will give possible donors a mini-physical to determine if all criteria are met. On average, donators give a pint, as well as a few test tubes of blood. Immediately after giving blood, donors will be given snacks and juice. It is recommended to take time to relax after the donation and to avoid strenuous exercise or activity.

“Patients need blood,” said Gehrke. “You never know when it could be you on the receiving end.”